September 13, 2007
The end of the journey. The states are getting smaller and I find myself scrambling for maps much more frequently. I know, I could just follow the signs for highway 50 east, but I like to have the full picture in front of me.
So I left Lawrence, Kansas and headed through Missouri to St. Louis. Kansas is very flat until you are east of Emporia and all of a sudden there are trees again and even rolling hills, big surprise. Highway 50 in western Missouri felt a little like a roller coaster, without the upside-down loop. Constant dipping down little hills and up again. Not that flat driving you experience on the interstate. The trees had moved closer to the road and it was all green again. I hadn’t seen anything forest like since Washington State. Yes, there are trees in Oregon and the redwood trees in northern California and of course there are also trees in Colorado, but those are not the dense forests you find in the east. At least not where I drove. I know I still owe you the report for the stretch from Bellingham to San Francisco. Hopefully, I have time over the weekend to write.
OK, back to Missouri. It was really wonderful I could look over the tree tops of the forests as far as my eyes could see, all green. Since I had a pretty late start in the morning, I only made it to St. Louis that day. The weather was gray and on the rainy side. I took very few pictures on the last stretch from Kansas to NYC. The weather was not great and the light was hazy and just not good enough for photos. I only wanted to see the Gateway Arch in St. Louis and of course the weather was so gray that I could barely distinguish between the silver metal of the arch and the gray of the sky. I just made it back to the car in time before the skies opened up and it started to pour.
The last leg of this trip is a little blurry. I drove through seven states in just three days and I have a hard time remembering the differences between the states.
St. Louis to Louisville, Kentucky. More fields in Illinois, I think they might have been soybean fields. Once I got into Indiana the leaves on the trees started to change, yellow and red. Not sure if those were already fall colors or if the trees were distressed from the lack of rain. Instead of continuing straight east I dipped southeast to Louisville. Spent the night at a KOA just outside of town. It was weird to camp so close to a large city. It was my last night of camping. I really enjoyed camping. I never had to worry if the mattress was too soft or if the room might smell, as it was the case in several motels. A friend of mine had given me some tips where to go in Louisville and I spent some time the next morning exploring. Actually, I spent more time than I thought I would. I was torn between wanting to get home as soon as possible and at the same time I didn’t want the trip to end. I had looked at the map in the morning and figured that I could make it to Washington D.C. or at least very close
to it by nightfall. Oh, I was so wrong, but I wouldn’t find out until much later in the day. From Louisville I drove to Lexington. Another friend had told me about a beautiful stretch of highway between Lexington and Paris. Yes, there is a Paris in Kentucky too and another one in Virginia. That stretch of highway was really beautiful, wide rolling meadows, unfortunately not very green, divided by black horse fences. Not too many horses out on the meadows, it was pretty hot. Eventually, I ended up again on hwy 50 in Ohio and that’s when it hit me that I was still way over 300 miles west of D.C. There is not much of anything between Hillsboro, OH and Washington D.C. Lots of little towns/villages without any motels and no campgrounds. I hate when I don’t know where I’ll spend the night. Athens, OH seemed to be my best bet. Ever heard of Athens? Home of the Ohio University. After calling several places, I checked in at a Super 8 motel. Must have been very new, everything was clean and no funny carpet smell.
The drive from Athens to D.C. went mainly through West Virginia. A lot of mountain driving. Narrow roads with tons of tight curves and a lot of uphill driving. It was very pretty and the woods smelled like fall. I didn’t do this much mountain driving in Colorado. I passed thru several interesting little towns with nice old brick buildings.
By late afternoon I made it to D.C. Oh what fun driving on 495. Hadn’t seen that many cars since I-5 in Washington State. I spent two nights at my friends’ place in D.C. before heading home to NYC. Just a little more procrastinating. Unfortunately, I didn’t get to see all my friends in D.C.
The drive into Manhattan was pretty emotional. Seeing the skyline from New Jersey just made me crumble. The trip was over and I was home again. It felt like a load was taking of my shoulders. I finally could get the much needed rest. But before I could get that much needed rest I would have to deal with the NYC parking issues. I got into town at rush hour and traffic on First Avenue was hell. I did get a spot around the corner of my apartment and started unloading. I was lucky to get another spot in front of my building to get the big bags unloaded. All in all it took 2 ½ hours to unload. That included driving around the block several times and waiting to be legally parked. I was so tired that I didn’t read all the parking regulations. I only knew that I had to feed the meter at 9 AM. Well, I didn’t read the part that read no parking from 8:30 AM – 9 AM. So the trip ended the same way it started, with a parking ticket. I really didn’t care at that point anymore.
I have been home since Monday evening and I still haven’t gotten enough sleep. I am looking forward to the weekend. This is the first time in weeks that I have been thinking in terms of weekdays and weekend.
As mentioned earlier, I will send one more road report and a recap of the entire trip.
That’s it for now. Have to go to work!!